Saturday, April 5, 2014

First Amendment to the United States Constitution

"The Ninth Circuit Court ruled in Obsidian Finance Group LLC and Kevin Padrick vs. Crystal Cox (2014)[178] ruled that liability for a defamatory blog post involving a matter of public concern cannot be imposed without proof of fault and actual damages.[179]

Bloggers saying libelous things about private citizens concerning public matters can only be sued if they’re negligent i.e. the plaintiff must prove the defendants negligence – the same standard that applies when news media are sued.

The federal appellate court thus essentially said that journalists and bloggers are one and the same when it comes to the First Amendment
[180] and, in the words of Eugene Volokh, a professor at the UCLA School of Law, that nonprofessional press, especially bloggers, "for First Amendment purposes, have the same rights as others do, as for example the institutional media does."[181]

The unanimous three-judge panel rejected the argument that the negligence standard established for private defamation actions by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1974's Gertz v. Robert Welch Inc. only applied to "the institutional press."
[181] "The Gertz court did not expressly limit its holding to the defamation of institutional media defendants," Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote for the three-judge panel. "And, although the Supreme Court has never directly held that the Gertz rule applies beyond the institutional press, it has repeatedly refused in non-defamation contexts to accord greater First Amendment protection to the institutional media than to other speakers."[181] Hurwitz wrote: "The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others' writings or tried to get both sides of a story. …

In defamation cases, the public-figure status of a plaintiff and the public importance of the statement at issue -- not the identity of the speaker -- provide the First Amendment touchstones."